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Isn't it pretty?

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The Declaration of Independence

One of the questions on my exam this past week was: Must one believe in the Christian God to accept the rights claimed in the Declaration of Independence? Why or why not? My answer was (I know it is a bit clumsy, but I was at the end of my brain cells while I was writing the answer): The Declaration of Independence states, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” At the end of The Declaration there is mention of a “Supreme Judge of the world,” and “the Protection of Divine Providence.” While these phrases imply that a person owes his life to a higher being, I don’t think it necessitates a Christian God. I think that someone who believes in a Jewish God or Muslim God or Hindu God, as long as they believe that their God embodies the above-mentioned characteristics, can accept those rights. I also think that it does not necessitate a belief in a God of any religion at all. I think that even an atheist can accept the rights claimed in The Declaration of Independence. I believe that as long as a person accepts the words of The Declaration in a generic sense, he can accept the rights they declare. If a person agrees that each man is created equal, and he is willing to fight to secure the rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” for every person, then I don’t think he has to believe in a God. I feel that as long as a person accepts that there should be justice for all and a protection of the unalienable rights mentioned in The Declaration, and again he is willing to fight so that every person can take full advantage of justice and protection, then he does not have to believe in any God to accept those rights himself. I think that any person who believes that all men should have the right to make a life for himself without having to answer to a tyrant can lay claim the rights mentioned in The Declaration of Independence.

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